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Yesterday, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was formally restored to full membership for the first time in nearly ten years with the swearing in of two new recently confirmed Commissioners. Here’s the release from the EAC:
Today, U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chairman Tom Hicks administered the oath of office to newly appointed EAC Commissioners Benjamin Hovland and Donald Palmer. Hovland and Palmer join current Chairman Hicks and Vice Chair Christy McCormick, marking the first time in a decade that the commission has had a full quorum of Commissioners. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, attended the event and offered remarks to mark the occasion.
Hovland and Palmer were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 2, 2019. Today’s private ceremony was co-hosted by Senator Blunt and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. It took place in the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Committee Room in the Russell Senate Office Building.
“The EAC and the Help America Vote Act are of as much value to voters and election officials today as it has been at any other time since its inception,” said Chairman Hicks. “We are thrilled to welcome Commissioners Hovland and Palmer to the EAC, and we look forward to working with them to address vital election administration issues, including system guidelines, security, and accessibility.”
Vice Chair McCormick added, “There have been huge changes to the way elections are administered in the U.S. since the Commission was created, and those changes have only accelerated. While we each come from different backgrounds and experiences, and may hold different opinions on some issues, I am confident that those differences will help us be smarter and stronger as we collaborate together to make the best possible choices to impact and improve elections in America and to help Americans vote.”
Hovland came to the EAC after serving as an election attorney for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he spent much of his time focused on improving access to registration and voting. Previously, he served as the Deputy General Counsel for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, where he focused on legal issues related to the administration of state and federal elections, including recounts, poll worker training, voter registration list maintenance, statewide database matching, voter education resources, and ballot initiative litigation.
Palmer previously served as a Bipartisan Policy Center fellow focusing on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He formerly served as elections director in both Florida and Virginia, as well as a member of the EAC’s Standards Board Executive Board and its Technical Guidelines Development Committee. Prior to his work in elections, he served as a trial attorney with the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where he enforced federal voting laws and provided guidance to states on compliance. Palmer began his career as a U.S. Navy intelligence officer and judge advocate general deployed overseas onboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy and tours of duty in Italy, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Full membership puts the EAC formally back in the game on many issues, including voting system standards and management of federal election administration funding, and ensures that the EAC can continue to support the work to collect and analyze data on state and local election administration nationwide. It’s fantastic news – congratulations to all four Commissioners, new and continuing, and here’s hoping the EAC is able to hit the ground running as the 2020 election cycle races toward us! Stay tuned …